Sunday, 4 January 2015
The Sharing Group Discussion: The Quranist 'Shahadah'
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
The following topic was raised by Brother Justin Taylor on The Sharing Group, on the 29th December 2014. The thread diverted significantly from the original post. He asked: “I read about a shahadah recently that said, ‘There is no god but Allah, Jesus was His prophet and Muhammad His messenger’; would there be any issues with this?”
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: No.
Sister Eleanor Grant: There is no god but The God (Allah). That is all you need to say. Associating other names with God and making distinctions amongst his messengers is shirk. The shahadah is a condition of the heart. It is not just something you say
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: This is not shirk. It is true that Jesus (a.s.) is a prophet.
Brother Justin Taylor: I ask because I feel I have learnt a lot about Jesus (a.s.) and am happy to say he is a prophet as I would be about Buddha. The issue for me would be I do not feel I know enough about Muhammad (s.a.w.) as yet to be able to state to God he is or is not. I could accept what other people say fine. And from what I have learnt, I feel he was Divinely-Inspired but I am simply to ignorant as yet to really truthfully know. I never doubt there is one God. That is like doubting the air I breathe.
Sister Jessica A. Young-Fanor: I feel all prophets are equalised: they are essentially the same facet of contact, that is, they serve the same purpose. I could never understand why man allowed God to be replaced by what He Created. It is blasphemy in my eyes to appropriate God’s Power to His Creation, and to honour the messenger, not the Creator.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: There are, within our books, many different forms of the shahadah. They all say the same message, but some are more flowery than others. For example, there is, “Laa ilaha illa Allah Muhammadan ‘Abduhu wa Rasuluh.” This is also a declaration of faith. Some mention the names of the other prophets, some mention the pillars of faith such as the last two ayat of Surah al-Baqarah. The invocation of Yunus (a.s.) is also a testification of faith, bit without the mention of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: I was taught the flowery one: ‘abduhu wa rasuluh. This was the shahadah. The other was the Kalimah Thayyibah.
Brother Jak Kilby: Sister Eleanor, the first part of the shahadah, “There is no god but Allah”, is not the shahadah unless it continues with the second part, whether it be, “and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” or one of the similar variants.
Sister Eleanor Grant: I am a Quranist, not Sunni, so my shahadah differs from yours, Brother Jak. But thank you anyway. Peace.
Brother Justin Taylor: What is a Quranist?
Sister Eleanor Grant: It is a Muslim who lives their life by Qur’an alone. I prefer to call myself a monotheist, to be honest. This website has lots of good articles about Qur’an alone Islam: Free-Minds.org.
Brother Jak Kilby: Well, you are certainly correct that it is different from mine, Sister Eleanor. Sad to say, I do not recognise your stance at all, and would be in fear of it. I would point out to you that Jews say the first part of the shahadah minus the second, as they do not recognise the Prophet (s.a.w.) but they do Allah (s.w.t.) of course. And those Jews do not refer to the Qur’an of course. The more I hear of Quranists, the more it seems to me to be a newly invented religion and not Islam. I am sorry if this is offensive to you, but I feel I must speak my mind honestly. I would maintain that you cannot be a Muslim without the complete shahadah, which is the required attestation of faith.
Brother James Harris: Do Quranists not recognise the second half of the shahadah? That is surprising. I thought they at least recognised the five pillars.
Sister Eleanor Grant: We believe this:
And who turns away from the religion of Abraham but such as debase their souls with folly? Him, We Chose and Rendered pure in this world: and he will be in the Hereafter in the ranks of the righteous. (Surah al-Baqarah:130)
Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith? For Allah did Take Abraham for a friend. (Surah an-Nisa’:125)
He is the living (One): There is no god but He: Call upon Him giving Him sincere devotion. Praise be to Allah Lord of the Worlds! (Surah Ghafir:65)
To you be your Way, and to me mine. (Surah al-Kafirun:6)
Sister Sabine: Brother James Harris, many Quranists do not recognise the second part: Free Minds.org: True Testimony.
Sister Eleanor Grant: Are you Quranist, Sister Sabine?
Brother James Harris: If they do not recognise Muhammad (s.a.w.) as a prophet, then why bother with the Qur’an?
Brother Jak Kilby: So, I am just attempting to get my head around this, but can I ask, do Quranists make adzan and iqamat when they are going to do their swalah? If they do, then that includes the shahadah. Or do they dispense with it or simply change it?
Brother Ishaq Mohammed: Some Quranist I know just dispense with the second part, “Ashadu anna Muhammad ar-Rasulullah,” and call the rest.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Rarely have I seen verses of the Qur’an used so horribly. Also, “To you be your Way, and to me mine,” was addressed to the kafirun.
Brother Jak Kilby: It is not much different from Wahhabism in one way is it, this Quran only thing? It means taking a stance that virtually all Muslims, for all the duration of the history of Islam, were wrong, did not know what they were doing whether scholar or layman, and that ‘some’ people know better today and follow that.
Sister Khadijah Alban: Subhanallah, the adzan which is called upon us 3 times in the day and twice in the night recites the shahadah yet people still want to take away the truth just because they feel like it or disagree with it. May Allah (s.w.t.) Keep us steadfast and on His Path and Save us from ignorance.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: And when Allah (s.w.t.) Says in the Qur’an that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets?
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has Full Knowledge of all things. (Surah al-Ahzab:40)
Brother Ishaq Mohammed: To answer the original question, there is a site called ‘Answering Islam’, which is a vehemently anti-Islam, evangelical Christian site, that states the original shahadah was: “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger; I bear witness that Jesus is His servant, word, spirit, and the son of his slave-girl; and I bear witness Paradise and Hell are real.” I am not sure how true it is. However, their rival site, Answering Christianity, did not say it was wrong, only unnecessary to state all that.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Technically, that is not wrong. Merely superfluous. This phenomenon of Quranist Muslims is a new one, and confined to the fringe, unlearned. It is inconceivable to have Islam without the Prophet (s.a.w.). And it is inconceivable that a group of people who barely know Arabic, can reinterpret the Qur’an according to their whims and fancies, ignoring 1,400 years of scholarship. They ignore the exegesis and the context of the Qur’an and disregard the body of ahadits due to extreme ignorance.
Essentially a Quranist is no more of the body of believers than the Ahmadiyyah and the Wahhabis due to major differences in ‘aqidah. Insha'Allah, we du’a that it is a passing phase and these people eventually come back to the religion.
Sister Eleanor Grant: Is this a sharing group or a platform for declaring apostasy against non-Sunni Muslims?
Brother James Harris: The group basically considers all schools of thought listed in the Amman Declaration to be legitimate schools of Islam, and this is based on specific shared fundamentals. The group is certainly not exclusively for the discussion of Sunni Islam.
Brother Fahim Ferdous Promi: It is quite rude to call all Quranist Muslims ignorant. There is a great world of difference between the Wahhabi ideology and the Quranist one.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Islam is to believe in Allah and His Beloved (s.a.w.). If anyone considers the latter to not be a messenger then whatever they believe, it is not Islam.
Brother James Harris: That is what we were trying to establish through the questions here on the thread, Brother Fahim.
Brother Fahim Ferdous Promi: Quranists do believe Muhammad (s.a.w.) was His Messenger.
Sister Eleanor Grant: Quranists believe in all of God’s messengers including Muhammad (s.a.w.), and make no distinctions between any as Commanded by God
Brother Jak Kilby: Going back to the basic question, it was about the shahadah, and as it seems from what you say, Sister Eleanor, you and the group you follow do not make shahadah.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Also, we know the Qur’an is God’s Word because Rasulullah (s.a.w.) told us it was, so to reject ahadits given this, makes absolutely no sense.
Brother Abdulkareem C Stone: It is lovely to believe in the Qur’an as it Says clearly Muhammad (s.a.w.) is the Seal of the Prophets. The finality of his prophethood means there will be no more Divinely-Endorsed changes to Divine Law. People who believed and followed Jesus (a.s.) did not disbelieve in Moses (a.s.) when they followed the change to the law introduced by Jesus (a.s.) or any of the previously prophets. But Divine Law was Changed in the same way as the new kings changed laws. The swahabah could not say, “We believe in Yusuf (a.s.), therefore we can prostrate before Muhammad (s.a.w.).” We cannot say, “Jesus allowed the drinking of wine so we believe in him as a prophet so we can drink wine.” If we believe in the Qur’an, we believe that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is the messenger of God and his Message had been sealed until the Day of Judgement, thereby obliging us to say, “Laa ilaha illa Allah Muhammad ar-Rasulullah.” If we do not say that, we do not believe in the Qur’an.
Brother Hajj Ahmad: Imam Ja’far asw-Swadiq (q.s.) said, “If you enter the Diyn of Islam for people, you will exit the Diyn of Islam because of people. If you enter the Diyn of Islam based on the sunnah and the Qur’an of Allah, then mountains will move and you will not leave the Diyn at all.”
It is important to note, however, that the Qur’an and sunnah must be understood according to their higher realities to be of maximum benefit, otherwise, the heart gets fixed in religiosity and does ‘turn’ at warp speed.
Brother Ishaq Mohammed: This would be one on my very few disagreements with the majority of the group. I absolutely consider Quranists Muslims true and the only thing separating me and them is minimal. Perhaps that I perform swalah the Sunni way and adhere to certain sunnat. Also, I do not completely reject all ahadits as well.
Within the Quranist you will find various beliefs varied as well, regarding hijab, swalah, things like alcohol and so forth. Religion wise, one thing I break rank with them is many say Jesus (a.s.) is dead and will not come back. They either say he recovered and died as do the Ahmaddiyah or that he died on the cross and his spirit was Raised to Allah and thus cleared of what he was accused of. So yes, there is much I disagree with them on, but I cannot declare them as non-Muslim as some do. However, similar to Wahhabis, a few are quite vehement in their beliefs and declare takfir on us who do respect ahadits or follow sunnah. One chided me for going to jumu’ah and our masjid having an imam. That, to me, was a bit much.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Brother Fahim Ferdous Promi, show me the theological basis to reject the ahadits? And show me a credible scholar from amongst the Quranists, someone accredited and recognised, not one of their self-proclaimed intellectuals? I have read their books, and I have examined their explanation for their doctrine. It is pure nonsense. The majority of the people who follow the Quranists are new Muslims from an environment where the Wahhabi sect and its literal interpretation of ahadits is problematic and this group is a reactionary movement. Or they are the remnants of Rashad Khalifa and his code 19 heresy, and those people are engaged pure kufr since they contend that there are errors in the Qur’an.
Did you not find it pertinent that the Quranists are mainly found in new Muslim communities where there are little or no opportunities to actually learn Islam from credible scholars? As such, I consider them misguided at best, and ignorant of the more advanced aspects of Islamic theology. They are extremely rare in the established Muslim communities. I stand by my statement that they are ignorant. Issues of ‘aqidah are not to be trifled with. We may be lenient with the shari’ah, but we do not prostitute our creed.
Sister Eleanor Grant: Whose creed are you referring to, Brother Terence?
They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were Commanded to worship but one Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to him: (far is He) from having the partners they associate (with him). (Surah at-Tawbah:31)
You will find that most Quranists such as myself were Sunnis prior to becoming Quranists.
Brother James Harris: You seem to implying through the quotes from the Qur’an that Sunnis are not believers or Muslims, Sister Eleanor? Is that correct? What is the status of Sunnis according to the Quranist position?
Brother Abdulkareem C Stone: I cannot believe that there are people who reject all ahadits on principle and still expect to be called Muslim. Maybe they can say, “Well, I don’t believe that this hadits or that hadits was not actually said by the Prophet (s.a.w.),” but to say, “We don’t accept what the Prophet said,” is clearly disbelieving in the Qur’an. And to suggest that none of the words he said are accurate is ascribing deceit to a whole community.
Sister Eleanor Grant: I am not suggesting that at all, Brother James. Who am I to judge? I quote from Qur’an as a matter of habit.
Brother Hajj Ahmad: Interesting thread. Do not go away, Sister Eleanor. And Brother Terence, you tend to build unassailable walls by your adamant adherence to your belief whether it is supported by scholars and traditional theology or not.
Brother James Harris: Then what were you implying by the Qur’anic quote? We generally do not encourage comments or responses to be given as quotes alone. If you could give your comments in your own words, with quotes as support only, that would be helpful.
Brother Hajj Ahmad: I think the Qur’anic quotes were her comments. I hope you do not intend to censor or censure her because she is quoting Qur’an to establish her beliefs.
Brother James Harris: I did not mean that this was a reason for censorship at all. It was a request for her own comments. The point is that if she is interpreting the Qur’an in a way that is radically different from what we are accustomed to, how are we to understand what she is getting at with a quote and no explanation?
Brother Hajj Ahmad: I personally believe that there is too much slavish adherence to ahadits because ‘scholars’ claimed absolute veracity due to a humanly created process of ahadits verification which many bought into. That does not mean I reject all ahadits. I do not. I accept what makes sense to my intellect and heart. It is good to look at things in ways different from the norm. Certainty only comes from doubt. I find anyone who claims a bastion of authority to have used this to harbour weakness.
Sister Eleanor Grant: Thank you all. I appreciate your open dialogue. In future, I shall explain my understanding of the Quranic verses I quote.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Looking at this:
And before thee also the messengers We Sent were but men, to whom We Granted inspiration: if ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message. (Surah an-Nahl:43)
Before thee, also the messengers we Sent were but men, to whom We Granted inspiration: if ye know this not, ask of those who possess the Message. (Surah al-Anbiya’:7)
And, of course, this:
O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you... (Surah an-Nisa’:59)
We do go to the ‘ulama over silly things nowadays. But you have misunderstood this verse:
They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were Commanded to worship but one Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to him: (far is He) from having the partners they associate (with him). (Surah at-Tawbah:31)
However, the verse you quoted is understood in the context of the rabbis and scholars prohibiting what was allowed and allowing that which was prohibited, and the people followed, hence ‘lords’. But the authority of the ‘ulama as inheritors of the prophetic message is without doubt: obeying Allah, His messenger, and those in authority; asking those who know if we do not, this is established in the Qur’an itself. So to reject the application of ahadits is not only to reject The Beloved (s.a.w.), but also to rebel against Allah (s.w.t.).
Brother ELias Attia: The statement “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” is a truthful claim that all Muslims accept. This statement is in the Qur’an itself. The association of Muhammad (s.a.w.) with the Name of God is explained by the tafsir of Surah al-Inshirah:
And Raised high the esteem (in which) thou (art held)? (Surah ash-Sharh:4)
The early and classical Qur’anic exegetes had a lot to say about this but one thing they said was that you cannot have jumu’ah except that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is mentioned. You cannot have shahadah except that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is mentioned. You cannot have swalah except that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) is mentioned. This is how Allah Honoured His Messenger and Made his name honourable amongst the Muslims.
Brother Hajj Ahmad: This verse you quote, Surah an-Nisa’:59, can only be understood properly as a continuance and in the context of the verse before it which reads:
Allah doth Command you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due; and when ye judge between people that ye judge with justice: verily how excellent is the teaching which He Giveth you! For Allah is He Who Heareth and Seeth all things. (Surah an-Nisa’:58)
The meaning here is to provide judgement on issues of potential confrontation, and the main emphasis is political, that is the role political leadership.
But the verse has a wider meaning. The uli al-amr are people of authority because they are the best people among you in any area of society be it political, financial, infrastructural and so forth. It does not necessarily form the basis for a priestly class of scholars who have absolute authority in religion for all time. Of course, if there was a dispute on public religious matters, those most knowledgeable in religion should be consulted and their advice followed in order to keep order and balance in the society.
Please clearly recognise that the verse you quoted says those in authority ‘among you’. This means those of your time and place. In the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.) and immediately thereafter Islam was confined mostly to Arabia so it applied to those people in that time during a time when Islam was in its infancy. So I disagree that the ‘ulama are the inheritors of the Prophets. They are the interpreters of the Prophetic message for their time and place.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Our understanding that the ‘ulama are inheritors of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is based on the tafsir of that verse by Imam Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuthi (q.s.) and others, and a hadits where the Prophet (s.a.w.) said so. To say that one does not agree with this or that ahadits is fine. There are quite a few I disagree with, or whose veracity I doubt. But to reject the validity of the entire corpus is problematic. And yes, Brother Hajj Ahmad, I am very rigid with issues of ‘aqidah.
Brother Hajj Ahmad: Brother Terence, my view after reviewing my own experience is that rigidity is problematic when it comes to expansion of the heart which also in my view is at the very core of the Islamic Diyn, and often it is symptomatic of insecurity. This is not an accusation, but an observation and an invitation to go behind the rigidity of ‘aqidah or anything else. While I understand your desire to preserve the intellectual foundations of Islam, and to protect it from deviation, I would suggest on a personal basis that you inquire as to why this rigid view of ‘aqidah is so necessary and important to you.
This is not to prove a point to me or anyone else nor to win an intellectual argument. I know what ‘aqidah means and why it was originally developed by the salaf, but it is part and parcel of speculative theology which in my view is unnecessary for the pursuit of inner knowledge. If one wishes to pursue the external informational knowledge of speculative theology, that is their choice. It is only a suggestion for you to look a bit behind the armour of rigidity and to open up more to what is behind it. And I mean an inquiry that is not just intellectual, but probes deeper into the empty space behind this view, because your view and my view are merely intellectual constructs which are illusory obstructions to viewing the Real.
Regarding ahadits, there never was a suggestion to reject the entire corpus. That is your inference. And in regard to the ‘ulama being the inheritors of the Prophet (s.a.w.), when I used the word ‘‘ulama’ in my post, I was referring to an-Nisa’:59 which actually does not say ‘‘ulama’ but those possessed of authority. That was my error. Yet in my mind, there are two kinds of ‘ulama: those of existential outward knowledge and those of deep inner knowledge. I believe the ahadits you mentioned refer to the second type. The ‘ulama of the outward are not necessarily the inheritors of the Prophet (s.a.w.). For the most part, they are interpreters of the Prophetic dispensation. Here is a site that speaks quite intelligently to this point: Seekers Hub: Is the hadits, “The scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets” authentic? If so, what does it mean?
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I have been called many things, brother, much of it unflattering. However, insecure would hardly be the word to describe me. Some have said I am a liberal Muslim, which is interesting. At the heart of it, I am a conservative, from a conservative tradition. And the reason is actually very simple. We are the People of the Middle Path. Too much rigidity and literalism, we are Khwarij, and too much permissiveness in religion, and we have ‘reformed’ our religion to oblivion.
You have misunderstood my position and, perhaps, thought that it was directed in general. When we say Quranist, we are not speaking about people who have problems with ahadits. A Quranist belongs to a specific group in Islam with a specific doctrine which is inclement to the theology of the religion. At their heart, they reject all ahadits, and claim that it is a conspiracy by the ‘ulama to hide the ‘real’ Islam. It is slander against the pious predecessors. They also diminish the role of the Prophet (s.a.w.), claiming him a mere postman. This is similar to ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab saying that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) is ‘tarish’, a Najdi slang for courier.
I believe that Islam is an intellectual as well as spiritual path, and there is a hierarchy of sorts pertaining to knowledge. Knowledge is sacred in Islam, and like any treasure, it has to be striven for. Disrespect of ‘ilm is disrespect of al-‘Alim. Christianity has been dumbed down. And that has opened the door to the nafs masquerading as Divine Intent. If we are not guardians of our ‘aqidah, certainly we are answerable for the ummah as enablers for it being astray.
Our religion is an open door. All may come. But to enter the Presence of the Master, we must leave our selves behind. There cannot be two gods. And that is why I emphasise strongly on sound doctrine, on learning and making whatever there is palatable and subscribable. But the essence must never be allowed to diminish because people feel they know better. We look at moments when we should be considering eternity.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Surah an-Nisa’:59 refers to Allah, His Rasul, and those in authority. When taken alongside Surah an-Nisa’:60 and Surah an-Nisa’:61, it seems clear that the authorities in Surah an-Nisa’:59 are those who properly interpret the message of The One rather than leading people astray with their own whims, the true ‘ulama.
Hast thou not turned thy vision to those who declare that they believe in the Revelations that have come to thee and to those before thee? Their (real) wish is to resort together for judgment (in their disputes) to the evil though they were ordered to reject him. But Satan’s wish is to lead them astray far away (from the Right). When it is said to them, “Come to what Allah hath Revealed and to the Messenger”: thou seest the hypocrites avert their faces from thee in disgust. (Surah an-Nisa’:60-61)
Sister Eleanor Grant: I think we need to discuss what else “Obey the Messenger” could actually mean besides follow ahadits. The Qur’an only ever mention the word ‘ahadits’ in a negative context. For example:
Such are the Signs of Allah, which We Rehearse to thee in truth: then in what exposition (hadits) will they believe after (rejecting) Allah and His Signs? (Surah al-Jatsiyah:6)
Brother Jak Kilby: Since you give a translation we are not familiar with, we might just find it highly suspect. I hope you understand. For example:
These are the Verses of Allah which We Recite to you in truth. Then in what statement after Allah and His Verses will they believe?
These are the Portents of Allah which We Recite unto thee (Muhammad) with Truth. Then in what fact, after Allah and His Portents, will they believe?
‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali:
Such are the Signs of Allah, which We Rehearse to thee in Truth; then in what exposition will they believe after (rejecting) Allah and His Signs?
Muhammad Habib Shakir:
These are the Communications of Allah which We Recite to you with truth; then in what announcement would they believe after Allah and His Communications?
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Surah al-Jathsiyah:6 is taken in context of the verses preceding it and is not an injunction to reject prophetic ahadits, especially given that Allah (s.w.t.) has been so clear throughout the Qur’an to follow His Beloved:
... So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you... (Surah al-Hashr:7)
And the Arabic ‘hadits’ in that verse, when taken in the context of the preceding verses, is not about Prophetic ahadits. The below is a better translation:
These are the Portents of Allah which We Recite unto thee (Muhammad) with Truth. Then in what fact, after Allah and His Portents, will they believe?
Sister Eleanor Grant: All translations lead to the same meaning here I think. It is easy to get so hung up on the words that are used and overlook what the message is. For me it means what words other than God’s, the Quran, do you choose to believe in?
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Clearly not if yours tells you to reject prophetic ahadits. It was you who introduced that dodgy translation where ‘hadits’ is incorrectly used to refer to Prophetic ahadits, which all of the other translations listed by Sidi Muhsin above reject. So no, words are important because without them, the true meaning of the Qur’an as conveyed by The Beloved (s.a.w.) through his inheritors, the ‘ulama, could not be maintained. Every point you have tried to make above is contradictory to other parts of the same book.
Brother Dawud: The transmission of the Qur’an to our time is through the same people the Quranists say are untrustworthy. So they are being intellectually dishonest. If you believe that the majority or all of the transmitters of ahadits were liars, why not be intellectually honest and say you have no proof that they were not all liars, go for full blown scepticism and become a Hagarist. Although Cook and Crone have already admitted their theory was flawed, keep digging that hole and maybe you will reach China.
I am being sarcastic but also sincere. Why hate and slander the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.), our Beloved? Love him, his family and companions, just as he loved them. Or do not and do not say you love him, and leave this religion because it does not need you, we need Islam.
Sister Eleanor Grant: I have not slandered anyone here brother. If you read back through the comments, it should become clear who is doing the slandering.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Slander is to make a false statement; none of what we have said about the Quranists positions is false. You can make linguistic gymnastics of the sort employed by Trinitarians and quote as many Qur’anic verses out of context as you want, but the fact remains that the shahadah is about both Allah (s.w.t.) and His Rasul (s.a.w.). To say otherwise leaves one somewhere but it cannot be in Islam.
Brother Dawud: To explicitly, or implicitly, call the companions, en masse, liars is slander. If they are not liars, then the ahadits should be studied, and what objective criteria shows to be authentic, respected and obeyed as best as possible, in following the ayat:
Say: “If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will Love you and Forgive you your sins; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Surah Ali ‘Imran:31)
Brother Ishaq Mohammed: I understand their arguments well, including some, not all, saying that adding ‘Muhammad’ in the adzan is placing him with Allah, which is shirk in their eyes. Also Abraham (a.s.), David (a.s.), Solomon (a.s.), Elisha (a.s.), Elijah (a.s.), Jonah (a.s.), Jesus (a.s.), and the rest did not mention anything about Muhammad (s.a.w.), yet were counted as ‘Muslims’. This is also where they are coming from. I guess being a divergent as myself, I can see both sides. And as you and Brother Terence, I take my own personal matters of fiqh seriously. In other words I make it incumbent upon myself to call the adzan and say the shahadah as I know it, to perform swalah as I have learned it, and so forth. This is what makes me a Muslim. But I cannot call someone else’s Islam invalid if they indeed agree Allah is One and Muhammad (s.a.w.) is his prophet. That is for Allah (s.w.t.) to Decide.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Those different translations of the word ‘hadits’ are significant; either we accept that the ahadits and sunnah of The Beloved (s.a.w.) is irrelevant and ignore it, or we follow it as an integral part of our religion. That is no small thing. The interpretation of that verse, if we want to call it that, also flies in the face of the rest of the Qur’an. So either the Qur’an contains contradictions, which is impossible, or the given interpretation is nonsense.
Sister Sabine: Brother Ishaq, I do not necessarily think ‘Quranism’, or monotheism, or whatever you would like to call it, is a reaction to Salafism. It has been around for a long time. This handy volume of Aisha Musa makes some solid contribution to Islamic discourse, to a crucial debate that has been of concern to Muslims of all walks of life throughout Islamic history: Does the ahadits have authority as a source of religious law and guidance in Islam? Unveiling hitherto unknown, extant literature – a commendable effort in itself – Musa finds that the challenge to the ahadits as an authoritative source in Islam is almost as old as Islam itself and that such opposition was widespread in early Islam. Interestingly, she also finds echoes of the arguments used against the authority of the ahadits in early Islam in the contemporary anti-ahadits movement as well: Hadith as Scripture.
Brother Jak Kilby: We take issue that four translations do not mention ‘hadits’, while the one used by Sister Eleanor does, and that I am criticising her use of the translation she offers when it might be considered that aside from differing words, perhaps all five have roughly the same meaning. But the whole point there is the context. She is using this as ‘evidence’ that Muslims should not use or follow ahadits, and she belongs to a group with has abandoned and denounces ahadits and, it seems, as well as all tradition in Islam. The choice of the version of Qur’an translation is simply to reinforce the position of a group which is highly controversial and unacceptable to the majority of the Muslims.
Brother James Harris: The word used in the Arabic in verse al-Ma’idah:58 is ‘yunadi’, which specifies calling in a very general sense, meaning in this context something like ‘ask’ or ‘invite’. It is not referring to the same thing as adzan or related words, that is, the call to prayer. The problem is that in English we use the same word to convey both meanings.
When ye proclaim your call (nadiytum) to prayer they take it (but) as mockery and sport; that is because they are a people without understanding. (Surah al-Ma’idah:58)
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: The verse before is also addressed to those who believe: al-Ma’idah:58 is a continuation of this. So it is in the same context, a general guidance to all of the faithful.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I am looking at this from a theological perspective as opposed to an emotive one. I am addressing the Quranist doctrine from their own works, not any person.
Firstly, the Quranist notion that to mention the name of Muhammad (s.a.w.) in the adzan is shirk is actually takfir since it implies that the Muslims are mushrikin. It is a serious implication.
Secondly, one may be a Muslim simply by testifying that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is the Prophet of Allah (s.w.t.). Love of him, however, is a matter of iman and cannot be forced. One of the conditions of being mu’min as opposed to a Muslim is the love of the Prophet (s.a.w.).
Thirdly, the Quranist doctrine ignores exegesis and context of the Qur’an whenever inconvenient. For example, the word ‘hadits’ in the many verses may refer to news or stories. They do not refer at all to the field of ahadits. This is either a mistaken position or intellectual dishonesty.
Finally, a person personally rejecting ahadits is not necessarily a Quranist. They may self-identify as such insofar as many people self-identify as Salafi without understanding what the sect actually believes as Brother Ilyas Foy correctly pointed out, or some people are born as Ahmadi without necessarily adhering to the doctrine or knowing it, as Sister Sarah Ager mentioned in the other thread. In such cases we husn azh-zhann, and accept them as Muslims, surely Allah (s.w.t.) will Sort us all out.
However, it is still our responsibility to address the doctrine and the incongruences with the established creed of the Muslims. What separates the ‘alim from the non-‘alim in these cases is to address the issues with adab, and if possible, gentleness. Learning and conversion is a process. Many of us were non-Muslims once; we did not even have the shahadah. As such, it is better if we address the creed with a sincere intent to understand.
Sister Sabine: Brother Jak, when you look at the Arabic original, you can see that the word ‘hadits’ is being used. As anyone who is familiar with the Arabic language knows, different translations of a particular word are possible.
Brother James Harris: I really do not understand what the problem is for there to disagree on these interpretations. If Sunni Muslims take the five pillars to be the foundation upon which Islam is based, they are going to test whether arguments against this hold up or not. That is how any doctrine works. If doctrine was not important, why spend any time learning it?
Sister Sabine: I do not like using the word ‘Quranist’ because I know many Quranists do not like it either and prefer to call themselves Muslims or monotheists. What I have learned from having being involved with them for a long time is that there is no such thing as a ‘Quranist doctrine’ but a lot of variety and diversity.
Brother Jak Kilby: Sister Sabine, yes, I do know that in the Arabic the word ‘hadits’ is being used. However, it has differing meanings. By the translation, Sister Eleanor was using, where this word was not translated, and given the Quranist position, as it seems, this word is not translated for a reason, that being that it is presented as ‘evidence’ that we should not use ahadits. But I do not understand the ayat that way at all. And I doubt many others understand it that way either. So I see the untranslated word as part of an agenda of an obscurantist sect to uphold their position and nothing else.
Brother James Harris: The problem with this approach is that if they are going to take a position against other Muslims on fundamental issues, they have to be able to address those issues with convincing arguments or explanations. Surely there must be some intellectual basis for Quranism that can stand up to criticism. One cannot expect that any disagreement can be explained as being due to bigotry.
I do not like the Wahhabi use of ahadits either, but reacting to their behaviour by throwing out ahadits entirely is not a sound basis for a religious doctrine, in my view. Ahadits as a source of knowledge is not exclusive to Wahhabism. But I would be interested to hear other arguments for the position against ahadits.
Sister Sabine: Did you see the link I posted above? It is not a new movement that was ‘totally unthinkable in the past’. Many issues that have been discussed by scholars in the past are nowadays being presented as if there had never been any question about them.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Obscurantist or not, based on above, it does seem clear that they have not the foggiest about the Qur’an and its study. Presenting interpretations and translations of verses that contradict the rest of the Qur’an, and that untranslated word ‘hadits’ in that verse, which goes against other translations by various people, does suggest an agenda to change text to fit their own views, as the Wahhabi's are infamous for doing.
Brother Jak Kilby: Sister Sabine, did you mean Aisha Musa’s book? Yes, I did look at the links. I found it somewhat suspect so I did a further search. According to the Free-Minds website, she seems to belong, or at least heavily lean towards their group. So I treat it as propaganda. For me, this is something dressing it's up as an Islamic ‘reform’ movement but appears to be destroying Islam from inside. Scholars having issues going back in history is quite different from self-promoting proselytising movements who throw all ahadits out the window, dispense with all tradition, ignore the major schools of jurisprudence and now come up with things like ‘same sex marriage’ as ‘reform’.
Brother Abdulkareem C Stone: I was looking at the Free-Minds website, Sister Eleanor recommend and it is really bizarre. It claims the ummah has lied about Muhammad (s.a.w.) being illiterate and he wrote the Qur’an and compiled it as a book. It says to become a Muslim all one has to say is there is no god but Allah. It is clearly heretical.
What is said on this web site is far worse than what ibn ‘Abd al-Wahab said in his takfir. This Free-Minds website is full of hatred: “God tells us that the Qur’an is detailed (see 6:114), complete (see 6:115), and a clarification for all things (see 16:89). Yet, the Hadith followers dare to challenge such assertions made by the Almighty to defend the precious idols they have created!
Unfortunately, no matter how abhorring we find the very concept of Hadith, there is little that can be done to stop its spread or existence as it has been proclaimed by God that the human and jinn devils will be permitted to propagate their lies and fabrications.
‘And as such, We have permitted the enemies of every prophet — human and Jinn devils — to inspire each other with fancy words in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their fabrications. That is so the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter will listen to it, and they will accept it, and they will take of it what they will.’ (Qur’an 6:112-113)”
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: That last verse, Surah al-An’am:112-113, is addressed to the Prophet (s.a.w) as a continuation from several verses back, and is about those who associate others with Allah (s.w.t.). So if they are trying to apply this to us, then they are calling us mushrikun and thus making takfir. The Quranists are just as bad as the Wahhabi takfiri!
Brother Abdulkareem C Stone: I feel really offended reading that web site. It has quite upset me.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: We have to understand that this issue by the Quranist sect is more than mere rejection of ahadits. By their own doctrine, they have made takfir of the 99% of Muslims, including all the swahabah, and the pious predecessors. Thus, when people identify themselves as Quranist, they have to understand what they are actually identifying with. It is, without doubt, an act of kufr. And that is the theological perspective.
From an academic perspective, their doctrine is incongruent. There is no Quranist who can be credibly called a scholar. What they have done is deliberately take the verses of the Qur’an out of context, engage in some theological gymnastics to obscure the truth. They have deliberately mistranslated the Arabic to suit an agenda and that is intellectually dishonest. It is the unanimous position of all the scholars, where Sunni, Shi’ah, Ibadhi, and even the Ahmadi and Wahhabis, that they are not Muslim, which is incredible considering they all cannot agree on virtually anything else.
Brother Ishaq Mohammed: I have many friends who are Qur’an Only Muslims. I love them and they love.me. Do we disagree? Sure. And while as Sister Sabine said, Quranists are not a new movement, unlike the Wahhabis, the modern ones are a reaction to the extremism in the ummah which fuelled groups like the Taliban and ISIS. Just as those groups took their own interpretation of the ahadits and Qur’an, so do these who call themselves Qur’an Only Muslims. Basically they found that trying to follow what some shaykh said based on ahadits drove them away from the worship of Allah instead of toward it, which is the point of Islam altogether. So using the Qur’an as a guide, they had to find their way to love Him and practice Islam in a way that made sense to them, even if it did not make sense to the rest of us. Many of the Qur’an Only Muslims were converts who were guided by Wahhabi influence. It is sort of like an abused child or spouse who had to flee and start life over again the best way they could.
Now, you might see me as excusing the things they say, but it is not. It is just explaining why some groups like Free-Minds exist. And again, not that I agree with all they say or teach. When I first converted, I posted that website in here as well and while initially I agreed with some things they said, the more I read, it actually disturbed me. So, to myself, first and foremost, and for all others, I ask that Allah (s.w.t.) Guide us all upon the Straight Path of the Diyn, being not excessive or lax in the ways of Islam. But bottom line, if you are secure in your Diyn, there is not a reason to be overly angry at those guys.
Brother James Harris: Brother Ishaq, my entire extended family are not Muslims, and I still love them. When discussing issues related to doctrine, whether we have friends who believe the doctrines under discussion or not is irrelevant. The discussion should not be made personal.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: I did not want to read it before but just clicked; it is bile! They mention an instance of ‘Umar (r.a.) hitting Abu Hurayrah (r.a.). I have never heard this before but a quick Google search says that it is Shi’ah. I am Sunni and have disagreements with my Shi’ah brethren. But here is the thing: the Shi’ah have their own ahadits collections. So it seems the Quranists are using a Shi’ah story to ‘prove’ their anti-ahadits sentiments, ignoring the fact that the Shi’ah have their own ahadits books too. And I only read the first few paragraphs...
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Being friends with people is irrelevant to this discussion. This is an issue of doctrine and ‘aqidah. It is not something that we turn a blind eye to. As mentioned in my earlier comment, we are cognisant of their origins and how the movement arose, both the newer convert-driven self-study, and the older Rashad Khalifa movement. We would be remiss in our duty as scholars and teachers of the religion if we did not refute this heresy and its baseless claims on the basis of friendship. If someone adheres to this, then that is their private faith. But I cannot accept that it is viewed as a legitimate part of Islam when it is obviously not.
Brother Tarek Sourani: Brother Terence has said everything when it comes to these people. I cannot take them seriously. They have no arguments and are a result of postmodernism. A real sad issue. May God Protect us.
Brother Harry Elfrink: I consider Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) to be problematic, as he was only around the Prophet (s.a.w.) for a short amount of time. He formatted ahadits under the employment of the Umayyad Dynasty, and a lot of the ahadits were used to justify Umayyad rule. Also, there are plenty of narratives about ‘Umar (r.a.) and even ‘Aishah (r.a.) going against Abu Hurayrah’s (r.a.) ahadits. But traditions and narrations are not all bad, and they must be weighed vis-a-vis Qur’an.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) was hated by the Umayyads. He publicly announced his love for Hasan (r.a.) and Husayn (r.a.). He did not format the ahadits. The field of ahadits evolved over the next 400 years and there are vastly different formats and arrangements in the books. What Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) did do, was write the first Swahihayn, a book of the sayings of the Prophet (s.a.w.) as he said it: A Muslim Convert Once More: One Man's Devotion.
Brother Dawud: Brother Terence, it appears that the Quranist ‘monotheist’ want to make Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) into a second ‘Paul’ who perverted their pristine Islam. The Wahhabis called themselves ‘Muwahhidun’, incidentally, as did the Mu’tazila. They also believe, like the Wahhabis, that the majority of this ummah is misguided, and more importantly, that Allah (s.w.t.) Wills them to follow misguidance, as the sunnah is implied, and that they, uniquely, understand the Qur’an. This idea of the uniquely ‘saved sect’ is, as Imam Zaid has said, the distinguishing mark of every deviation and faction of this ummah. I think of them as wrong, but do not hate or lie about them. They do not show us the same respect; to even admit that the website slanders the companions is too much to expect. Allah Forgive us all.
Sister Sabine: Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) was and is being considered problematic by some scholars as well. The following are extracts from Fatima Mernissi’s The Veil and the Male Elite: “It is our tradition to question everything and everybody, especially the fuqaha’ and a’immah. And it is more than ever necessary for us to disinter our true tradition from the centuries of oblivion that have managed to obscure it. But we must also guard against falling into generalisations and saying that all the imams were and are misogynistic. That is not true today and was not true yesterday.
The example of this is Imam az-Zarkashi (r.a.), who, luckily for us, recorded in writing all of ‘Aishah’s (r.a.) objections. Imam Zarkashi (r.a.) was of Turkish origin, but born in Egypt in the middle of the fourteenth century (actually in year 745 of Hijrah). Like all the scholars of this time, he travelled throughout the Muslim world in search of knowledge. He specialised in religious knowledge and left behind no less than 30 compendiums. Many of these are lost to modern researchers, and we know only their titles. Among those that have come down to us is a book devoted to ‘Aishah’s (r.a.) contribution to Islam, her contribution as a source of religious knowledge.
The book begins as follows: ‘Aishah (r.a.) is the Mother of the Believers. ... She is the lover of the Messenger of God (s.a.w.). ... She lived with him for eight years and five months; she was 18 years old at the time of the death of the Prophet (s.a.w.). ... She lived to be 65 years old. ... We are indebted to her for 1.210 ahadits.
And he explains: This book is devoted to her particular contribution in this field, especially the points on which she disagreed with others, the points to which she supplied added information, the points on which she was in complete disagreement with the religious scholars of her time. ... I have entitled this book Collection of ‘Aishah’s Corrections to the Statements of the Companions (al-‘Iradha fi ma Istadrakatsu ‘Aishah ‘ala asw-Swahabah).
This book remained in manuscript form until 1939. al-Afghani discovered it while doing research for his biography of ‘Aishah (r.a.) in the ad-Dahiriya Library of Damascus. Why did Imam Zarkashi (r.a.), one of the greatest scholars of the Shafi’i school of his time, undertake his work on ‘Aishah (r.a.)? A work that, by all accounts, he must have considered extremely important, since he dedicated his book to the Judge of Judges (Qadhi al-Qudhat) - the equivalent of the Minister of Justice today, the supreme authority in religious matters in a Muslim city. Because, he says, ‘the Prophet recognized ‘Aishah’s importance to such an extent that he said, ‘Draw a part of your religion from little al-Humayrah.’’
One of the favourite pet names for ‘Aishah (r.a.) was ‘al-Humayrah’, referring to her very white skin made radiant by a light sunburn, something rather rare in the Hijaz, the northern part of Arabia.
‘Aishah (r.a.) disputed many of Abu Hurayrah’s (r.a.) ahadits and declared to whoever wanted to hear it, “He is not a good listener, and when he is asked a question, he gives wrong answers.”
‘Aishah (r.a.) could take her liberty of criticising him because she had an excellent memory: ‘I never saw anyone who had so much knowledge about religion, poetry, and medicine as ‘Aishah.’
Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) knew how to rile her. ‘But who has heard about that from Abu al-Qasim (the Prophet’s kunya)?’ she exclaimed when someone recounted to her another of Abu Hurayrah’s (r.a.) traditions, this time describing what the Prophet (s.a.w.) did after making love.
It is not wasted effort to us to tarry over the personality of Abu Hurayrah (r.a.), the author of ahadits that saturate the daily life of every modern Muslim woman. He has been the source of an enormous amount of commentary in the religious literature. But he was and still is the object of controversy, and there is far from being unanimity on him as a reliable source.
The most recent book about him, jointly published by a Lebanese and an Iraqi firm, is a tribute written by one of his admirers who devotes no less than 500 pages to defending him. ‘Abd al-Mun’im Swalih al-‘Ali gave his book a rather eloquent title: In Defense of Abu Hurayrah. It was obviously a success since a new edition was published in 1983. The author begins by asserting that ‘the Zionists and their allies and supporters have found another weapon against Islam; it is to introduce doubt about the narrators of traditions ... and especially about those who were the source of many ahadits.’ This gives an idea of the controversy surrounding Abu Hurayrah (r.a.).
What is certain is that Abu Hurayrah (r.a.), long before Zionism, was attacked by companions of his own generation. He had a very dubious reputation from the beginning, and Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) was aware of it, since he reports that ‘people said that Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) recounts too many ahadits.’ ‘Abd al-Mun’im, to his credit, cites all those incidents in which he was strongly challenged, including by those other than ‘Aishah (r.a.). He assures us that ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.), the second orthodox caliph, did not say that ‘the worst liar among the muhadditsun (narrators of ahadits) is Abu Hurayrah.’ He disputes the claim that ‘Umar (r.a.) threatened to exile him, to send him back to his native Yemen, if he continued to recount ahadits.
‘Umar (r.a.), who enjoyed an unparalleled influence on the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the Muslim community of yesterday, and still does today, because of his prestige as a man of politics, his boldness in military matters, his strong personality, and his horror of lying, avoided recounting ahadits. He was terrified at the idea of not being accurate. For that reason, ‘Umar (r.a.) was one of those companions who preferred to rely on their own judgement rather than trust their memory, which they considered dangerously fallible. He was very irritated by the facile manner in which Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) reeled off ahadits: ‘‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.),’ we can read in Imam al-‘Asqalani’s (r.a.) biography of him, ‘is supposed to have remarked as follows about Abu Hurayrah (r.a.): ‘We have many things to say, but we are afraid to say them, and that man there has no restraint.’’
For the pious companion, the fallibility of memory was an occasion for meditating on the fragility of existence in the face of the flowing river of time, which steals not only youth, but especially memory.
‘Umar ibn Hasin (r.a.), another companion who was conscious of the treacherousness of memory, said: ‘If I wanted to, I could recite traditions of the Prophet (s.a.w.) for two days without stopping. What keeps me from doing it is that I have seen some of the companions of the Messenger of God (s.a.w.) who heard exactly what I myself heard, who saw what I saw, and those men recounted ahadits. Those traditions are not exactly what we heard. And I am afraid of hallucinating, as they hallucinate.’ The Arabic word is yushbah, literally ‘to hallucinate,’ that is, to see a reality that does not exist, but that has the appearance of reality.
Abu Hurayrah (r.a.), on the contrary, for the three years that he spent in the company of the Prophet (s.a.w.), would accomplish the tour de force of recalling 5,300 ahadits. Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) listed 800 experts who cited him as their source.
Here is how Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) explains his excellent memory, ‘I said to the Prophet (s.a.w.): ‘I listen attentively, I take in many of your ideas, but I forget many.’’ Then, the Prophet (s.a.w.) is supposed to have told him to spread out his cloak while he was speaking to him, and afterwards to pick it up at the end of the session. ‘And this is the reason that I no longer forgot anything.’
Telling the story of the cloak was not the best way to be convincing in a religion like Islam, which has a horror of mysteries of all sorts, where Muhammad (s.a.w.) resisted the pressure of his contemporaries to perform miracles and magical acts, and where the fuqaha’ became well versed from very early on in an exaggerated pragmatism.
Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) also gave another explanation that was a bit more realistic than the first. The other companions, he said, put their energy into their business matters and spent their time in the bazaars drawing up contracts and increasing their fortunes, while he had nothing else to do but follow the Prophet (s.a.w.) everywhere.
‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.), who was well known for his physical vigour and who awoke the city every day to say the dawn prayer, disliked lazy people who loafed around without any definite occupation. He summoned Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) on one occasion to offer him a job. To his great surprise, Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) declined the offer. ‘Umar (r.a.), who did not consider such things a joking matter, said to him, ‘You refuse to work? Better people than you have begged for work.’
‘Who are those people who are better than me?’ inquired Abu Hurayrah (r.a.).
‘Joseph, the son of Jacob, for example,’ said ‘Umar (r.a.) to put an end to a conversation that was getting out of hand.
‘He,’ said Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) flippantly, ‘was a prophet, the son of a prophet, and I am Abu Hurayrah, son of (his mother).’”
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Imam Muhammad az-Zarkashi (r.a.) was a noted scholar of fiqh, tafsir and ahadits. However, for Ustdzah Fatima Mernissi to claim that he was amongst the most important Shafi'i scholars of his time is a stretch. His views were regarded as controversial or unique, depending on who you ask.
I like her book, ‘The Veil and the Male Elite’, and there are many things I agree with. However, she is guilty of stretching the truth is several areas. The basis of her book is that the male scholars of Islam, over the course of 400 years, all colluded in a massive conspiracy specifically to oppress women. She was unkind to several swahabah in her book, especially Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) and ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.). She put a lot of effort into discrediting them as a source of ahadits. What she has done is intellectually and academically dishonest. She took gharib positions from esteemed scholars and spun them into something that was supposedly mainstream. In essence, the book was a massive conspiracy theory.
Brother Dawud: When people throw out the baby with the bathwater of the ahadits, then I see them as disrespectful and implicitly, or often explicitly as above on that website, as slandering the early generations of the Muslims. They also lose me as an ally.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has said that scholars he spoke with do not believe that Ustadzah Fatima Mernissi, may Allah Forgive her, has the Arabic and academic ability to read Imam az-Zarkashi’s (r.a.) works, and that others helped her. Allah Knows best.
What I find ironic, Brother Terence and Sister Sabine, is the selective choosing of which stories from the early generations to believe, because according to the ideology of the Quranists, all ahadits are false except the Qur’an, and therefore wrong and misguiding? Such foolishness and intellectual dishonesty.
Sister Sabine: How would Shaykh Hamza Yusuf be able to judge her Arabic skills? And does he suggest that his own Arabic skills are superior? He is not a native speaker; do you think he never had anyone help him?
Sister Eleanor Grant: I think accusing Quranists of being wrong and misguided is equally slanderous and arrogant. I am personally not a Quranist, I am simply a Muslim who chooses to follow Qur’an alone. I prefer spirituality over religion and I do not like to give myself a label of a particular belief. My relationship with God is much more important to me than religion. I think this is the true essence of Islam
Brother Dawud: Ustadzah Fatima Mernissi is a Berber Moroccan which means that she speaks Berber and French, and may have some academic Arabic. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is acknowledged by many Arabs to speak better Arabic than they do, which I have heard even from his Wahhabi opponents.
Imam az-Zarkashi (r.a.) has had some Western academics translate parts of his texts; if she had read them completely, then she is a liar against him by selective quoting only of the elements of Islamic tradition that she favours, as Brother Terence explained above, and if she has not, then she is merely ignorant and trusting blindly in her favoured scholars. I would like to be generous and assume that she is merely ignorant rather than an intentional deceiver.
He was also speaking of Moroccan scholars who knew both Ustadzah Fatima Mernissi and the traditional texts to which she is referring. I did not say that he was making that judgement by himself. Try not misquoting others, intellectual honesty makes arguments sounder. Indeed, without honesty there is nothing worth discussion.
Brother Dawud: Sister Eleanor, you are welcome to your opinions; just not to state them as true and expect no one to challenge them, especially as they explicitly insult companions that we respect. As they say, “You are welcome to your own opinion, just not to your own facts.”
Sister Eleanor Grant: I do not believe I stated any of my opinions as true. That seems to be what my Sunni brothers are doing, with respect to them. I said I think this is the true essence of Islam. This is not the same as saying, “What I am saying is true.”
Brother Dawud: Except when you say that Free-Minds does not slander anyone, as it does with invented stories, false ahadits: the irony burns and is obvious to everyone but the bigots, about companions. Does the idea of the Qur’an-alone not imply that narrating such stories about companions is telling ahadits besides the Qur’an, which is the only hadits? Sorry if I am using logic; it seems impossible to think without logic.
Sister Eleanor Grant: I did not say the Free-Minds website does not slander anyone. I said I did not slander anyone. I am a big fan of logic too, Brother Dawud.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Firstly, everyone is welcome to their opinion. And all contributions are valued.
Secondly, I would like the discussion to be at a doctrinal level. No personal attacks of any kind before it degenerates to that level, please.
Sister Sabine: Brother Dawud, it is interesting that you accuse Ustadzah Mernissi of selectively quoting Islamic tradition. I think that is exactly what Shaykh Hamza Yusuf sometimes does.
Brother Tarek Sourani: Sister Eleanor Grant, with all respect, there is no such thing as ‘Quran Only Islam.’ It is, in fact, after Wahhabism, a great form of arrogance because it claims to understand the religion better than thousands of purified scholars and 1,400 years of experiences.
Brother James Harris: The ahadits were collected in the first place so that the community of Muslims could make proper sense of the Qur’an. Without context, it cannot be understood. Those who were with the Prophet (s.a.w.) when he was alive did not need anything about him written down as they knew the context for interpretation. Later generations, of course, needed it written down. Rejecting all those early accounts essentially means rejecting all Islamic scholarship throughout history, including even Qur’anic tafsir. Why would anyone do that, and how can the Qur’an, or any other text for that matter, possibly be understood without any historical context?
Brother Tarek Sourani: This also goes for ‘Quran Only’: The Salafi Fallacy, by Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad.
Sister Eleanor Grant: Brother Tarek, to know Islam is a personal thing. It cannot be attributed to a particular doctrine. God Guides whom He Wills. This applies to everyone.
Brother James Harris: Islam encompasses a community, ummah, and is not purely individualistic. As such, what Islam actually means needs to have some kind shared understanding among its adherents. You cannot just appropriate the word ‘Muslim’ for yourself when it is shared by many other people around the world. If you feel no responsibility or accountability to others in what you say, and feel you do not need to consider anything others who call themselves ‘Muslim’ say, why do you not use another word instead of ‘Muslim’. You could say anything you liked then. My comment above is in response to the idea that there is no such thing as a Muslim community and we are therefore accountable only to ourselves.
Sister Eleanor Grant: I am not saying there is no such thing as a Muslim community. That does not mean there can only be one. There are many that I know of: A Monolithic Islam? Forget About It!
Brother James Harris: I did not say there is a ‘monolithic Islam’. I said that we are accountable to others who call themselves Muslim, whether we agree with them or not. You have not responded to my point about Quran interpretation above.
Brother Harry Elfrink: I consider Quran-only Muslims to be Muslim, but they are missing out on a lot by only going by Qur’an and disregarding traditions, and concepts like fiqh, ‘aqidah, taqlid; basically 90% of Islam
Brother James Harris: Yes. I would agree with that assessment. However, this also creates the potential for huge misunderstanding of the single source they do still use.
Sister Eleanor Grant: Thank you for this discussion, brothers. I will now take a bow and send peace to you all
Brother James Harris: Thank you, Sister Eleanor.
Sister Sabine: Back to the shahadah, I do find it interesting that it is considered essential, yet does not have a Qur’anic basis. I also find it interesting that in the Qur’an, a different phrase is being used when people ‘convert’. What I do not know and would like to understand is how the shahadah came about, why it is based on ahadits and not on Qur’an, and which phrase people used before collections of ahadits were available.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: No Qur’anic basis for the shahadah? Other than the numerous references to Allah (s.w.t.) being the only One worthy of worship? And in Surah al-Munafiqun, where Allah (s.w.t.) Himself Testifies that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is the Messenger of Allah?
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
When the hypocrites come to thee, they say, “We bear witness that thou art indeed the Messenger of Allah.” Yea, Allah Knoweth that thou art indeed His Messenger, and Allah Beareth Witness that the hypocrites are indeed liars. (Surah al-Munafiqun:1)
Brother James Harris: Sister Sabine, you said, “You do not need an example for each and every thing. Knowing how someone applied things 1,400 years ago does not necessarily mean you have to do it the same way in this day and age.” You are mixing up two different issues here, Sister Sabine. We do need to see what a verse meant to the people to whom it was originally Revealed in order to make sense of it. As to whether we apply that to ourselves to the letter is another issue entirely. Scholarship involves understanding the essence of a verse and in order to do that we see what it meant to the people to whom it was Revealed. To say that the Qur’an can be interpreted at all times and in all contexts would mean that it is a meaningless text.
Sister Sabine: But in that verse, it is the hypocrites saying it and they are being Reprimanded by God. God is basically Saying that their testimony regarding Muhammad is not needed.
To my knowledge, that is the only verse in the Qur’an which Mentions the words of the shahadah. Otherwise, when the Qur’an describes people who convert, the phrase, “I submit to the Lord of the Worlds,” is being used.
Brother James Harris: Regarding your saying, “And what about all those horribly misogynist ahadits which, according to many scholars, should still be valid?” the ahadits collections are not a list of rules, Sister Sabine. Only Wahhabis view them in that way. Any criticism of misogynist rulings should be directed at the fiqh scholars, if anyone. Furthermore, if there were indeed records of misogynist sentiments among the community to which the Qur’an was revealed, should we not know about that in order to work out how they understood a verse of the Qur’an, and so we will not be misogynist ourselves? Pretending they do not exist just blinds us with regard to our reading of the Qur’an.
Sister Sabine: I am sorry, but it is not only Wahhabis who use them this way. I just need to take a look at Dar el Iftah’s fatawa, Seekers’ Hub, or any other conservative mainstream source and will find a lot of misogyny by non-Wahhabi scholars that is based on using ahadits without context or critical evaluation. That is exactly what's troubling me. And even in this group, I saw people using misogynist ahadits, for example, the one about women being deficient in intelligence, to justify restrictions being imposed on women.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Regarding the verse, Surah al-Munafiqun:1, Allah (s.w.t.) Knows that he is His messenger and that the hypocrites are lying in their testimony; He does not say that the testimony is not needed. That the hypocrites are lying is the central thrust of Allah’s (s.w.t.) words. So if Allah (s.w.t.) is admonishing the hypocrites for lying in their testimony that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is the Messenger of Allah, then our declaring the same with sincere intention, unlike the hypocrites, is to declare our faith. Below is another verse:
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has Full Knowledge of all things. (Surah al-Ahzab:40)
Brother James Harris: Please re-read my comment, sister. I said it is only Wahhabis that treat ahadits collections as a list of rules. I did not say that all misogynists are exclusively Wahhabi. Ahadits are used by the fiqh scholars as well, but they are not given primacy over other sources. Taking ahadits as a source does not automatically mean one has to accept misogynist interpretations of Islamic law.
I should clarify that I do believe that there are problems with rigid, revivalist approaches to fiqh, without consideration of the modern world. However, I do not think that throwing away the entire discipline and most of its sources and scholarship is the answer to solving that problem.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: So to add to my above comment about Surah al-Munafiqun, Allah (s.w.t.) Says in many verses that He is the only deity worthy of worship, and He Says in that verse that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is His messenger. He is Reprimanding the hypocrites for lying in their testimony, not for the wording of the testimony. He, then, in effect testifies Himself by Saying: ‘Allah Knows...’ Other verses of the Qur’an also refer to The Beloved (s.a.w.) as the Messenger of Allah. Put the two parts together and, when said with sincere belief and intention, you have the shahadah.
Brother James Harris: The issue here is not whether we need to study ahadits in order to understand Islam. Of course, we do not. Rather, it is about rejecting ahadits and most of the Islamic tradition, and in its place offering a radical reinterpretation of the religion to replace accepted understandings of the Qur’an and the role of the Prophet (s.a.w.). To do that would require some strong arguments, and that is what is being discussed here.
Brother Muslim Mike: My wife and I are also what you called Qur’an Only people. I am most certainly interested in why you are in shock about it though.
Brother James Harris: I am not in shock. It is an understandable reaction to being subjected to people justifying ideas we disagree with through ahadits. However, going to the other extreme does not solve the problem. Especially considering that by rejecting the tradition entirely, the Quranists remove their voices from mainstream Sunni and Shi’ah discourse, where their voices would be needed most.
Brother Muslim Mike: For those Muslims, like myself, who follow the Qur’an solely, the Sunni and Shi’ah consider us kafirun and will not consider anything we say regardless. I do not deny that ahadits have some purpose to serve such as historical reference. But to utilise it as a source of guidance or judgment over what is in the Qur’an, which is the Protected Word of God by God makes no sense to me. As I see and compare from both sides of the field, I can see the problems occur that are absolutely against the guidance in the Qur’an and contradict it completely.
Brother James Harris; Brother Muslim Mike, I am not interested in labels or calling anyone a kafir. I was discussing the basis for how we understand the religion. I apply the same principles to the Qur’an that I would any other text.
Brother Muslim Mike: I am always glad to discuss my understanding and reasoning for retaining a Qur’an only position for those who want to discuss it. I did not mean to accuse you of doing so, please accept my apologies if you got that impression.
Brother Abdulkareem C Stone: Maybe, after one has read the sirah, then one can go back and make sense of the Qur’an using only ayat to explain. But there has to be an initial understanding of the life of the Prophet (s.a.w.). I do not think anyone made the decision to become a Muslim without first understanding something the life of the Prophet (s.a.w.) that is not recorded in the Qur’an.
Brother Muslim Mike: Why is it imperative to know the life of the Prophet (s.a.w.) to understanding the Qur’an? Does that not contradict the Qur’an?
Sister Sabine: Brother Hamayoon, but would you read that verse and conclude from it that everyone should say those very same words in order to become a Muslim? Would you say that this verse is the ‘Qur’anic basis for the shahadah’? Would it not make more sense to use the phrase, “I submit to the Lord of the Worlds”, like the Queen of Saba and others, rather than a phrase used by the hypocrites? Kindly explain because I cannot quite follow your train of thoughts.
Brother James Harris: It is basic principle of communication, Brother Muslim Mike. Communicating a message consists not of words alone, but the intention behind them and how they are understood by the people to whom they are communicated. You will find that in any elementary book on linguistics or translation studies. It is not a matter of religious dogma. It is widely understood that words are just the tip of the iceberg in communication. Context and intention give them meaning.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Every book requires interpretation and context - nothing exists in a vacuum and everything is affected by something else. Sun Tzu would have written his book and been influenced by other external factors in doing so. To understand his meaning, we must understand these external factors.
The Qur’an, likewise, must be understood in context. It is impossible to take the words of the Qur’an, written by the Almighty in all His Eloquence, and expect to understand them ourselves because to do so is to confer upon ourselves a level of understanding that none of us mortals has ever possessed. So the Qur’an must be filtered through the experience of the companions in seeing ‘The Walking Quran’ (s.a.w.) living the Message.
During the Battle of the Trench, for example, the companions were getting worried because maghrib was approaching and they had not prayed. They told Rasulullah (s.a.w.) who replied that he had not either: thus came to be known the permissibility to delay prayer in extreme circumstances. The ahadits and sirah are an indispensable part of our religion in understanding our religion.
Below is about just how much he loved his ummah: Islamic Knowledge Quest - The Prophet’s (s.a.w.) Love for His Ummah.
Brother Muslim Mike: Consider this verse:
Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah. (Surah al-Ahzab:21)
All mankind includes the Prophet (s.a.w.). With this thought in mind, who is the messenger to the Prophet (s.a.w.)? The Prophet (s.a.w.) is to apply these verses to himself the same as we all are; this is where the confusion often starts. In most all of the mentions of Obey Allah and Obey the Messenger the ‘messenger’ is actually referring to Gabriel (a.s.).
Sister Eleanor Grant: We are also told to follow the example Abraham (a.s.). Where is his sunnah?
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Qurbani is from the sunnah of Ibrahim (a.s.).
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Sister Eleanor Grant, the hajj is also the sunnah of Abraham (a.s.).
Brother Muslim Mike, you already brought up those verses and we already went through that, and I showed you word for word, that in Arabic, there is no confusion at all, and those verses refer to the Prophet (s.a.w.). You agreed then.
People should not be using English translations of the Qur’an to come up with their own fantastical ideas of what the verses actually mean, and propagate this nonsense. If anyone wants to dabble in exegesis of the Qur’an, then they should spend some time learning the sciences of it, including Classical Arabic. Our religion is not based on the nafs. The field of exegesis of the Qur’an is known as tafsir. A scholar who specialises in it is a mufassir. To be a mufassir, the scholar must have mastered the following: the sciences of the Arabic language, including nahu, balaghah and swaraf; the sciences of asbab an-nuzul, the science of naskh wa mansukh and the science of sirah pertaining to tafsir.
The Arabic of the Qur'an is of the highest level, fuswha’. Our brother, Dr. James Harris, is a professor of Arabic. He would be the best person to explain the language and the morphology of the verbs and nouns. The language of the Qur’an is such that an understanding of it demonstrates that there is no ambiguity in it. Some would say it is a miracle. And that is why Allah (s.w.t.) Says in the second verse of Surah al-Baqarah:
This is the Book; in it is Guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. (Surah al-Baqarah:2)
The field of asbab an-nuzul examines the circumstances that preceded the Descent of Revelation. There is a story behind every verse. They did not come down in a vacuum. The circumstances of Revelation give us an understanding of the Divine Intent of the verse. In the study of naskh wa mansukh, we examine, within the context of the order of Revelation, the verses that abrogate the ones that came before, and the circumstances of that abrogation. No abrogation is permanent. And the sirah pertaining to Revelation examines the aftermath of the Descent of those verses so that we can have a better understanding of the application of the Qur’an in our lives.
We are not like the evangelical Christians, who in their zeal for sola scriptura, rejected all Biblical scholarship and chose to apply the verses of the Bible as they were ‘moved by the spirit’. That sola scriptura divorced Revelation from context, just as the Qur’an only crowd seek to do so here. It is an anti-intellectual tradition that only leads to confusion. There is an intellectual tradition within Islam. We are not a Tea Party religion.
Brother Muslim Mike: So because I am not a scholar in any of those fields and because I rely on Allah (s.w.t.) to Guide and Teach me from what I read and understand and from what I study that anything that I say has no bearing or cannot be discussed? I am sorry if you take offense, as that is not my intention of course. I understand that you and many others are deeply involved in the scholarship in the practices of what it takes to be a scholar. I hold no grudge nor do I hold any distain towards you or towards scholars. I do however take some offense to your statement and or judgement towards me just because my understandings different than yours.
Just because I choose to stick to the simplicity as Allah (s.w.t.) has Implied in the Qur’an, does not mean I am wrong. But this is where I am at in my understanding. As per our discussion of that verse, I listen to your explanation and I have been studied in review this as well as other studying. And have since changed my thought and understanding since then.
Please now, I do not mean this disrespectfully but I have to say just because someone has devoted their life and time and dedication to study and learning something does not necessarily mean the curriculum is correct. By your statement alone you imply that we have to have scholars to understand any of it, yet Allah (s.w.t.) Says in the Qur’an we only need to trust and believe in Him as our Guide and Teacher. So for me, for now, that is what I'm doing. I am just asking you to respect me and my understanding as I respect you and your understanding. If you do not want me to post my thoughts and understandings here then please say so and I will be glad to leave the group. I thought this was going to be a sharing group for any and all people to share their thoughts and understanding.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Brother Muslim Mike, I did not take offense to anything. Rather, it is you who have chosen to be offended. Just as you have the right to share, so too do I have the right to point out where you are in error. You are welcome to refute me if you disagree, and bring whatever dala'il you have.
Personally, I emphasise scholarship and textual evidence, not feelings. I strongly believe that our religion is built upon knowledge, and that knowledge is to be shared, not hoarded. It is through the crucible of discussion and learning that we find Guidance. Just as the Qur’an Says, not all Muslims are the same level of faith, not all ‘ideas’ are the same level of credibility. Allah (s.w.t.) Himself Emphasised knowledge in innumerable verses.
When we consider simplicity, it is a private matter of faith. But when we address a community, then there has to be a foundation. There is never any simplicity in anything when two souls are involved. Every and all Muslims may choose the Path of scholarship. There is no clergy in Islam. And it is something to be encouraged and nurtured. If you would like to lead your community to guidance, and you have that in you, brother, then I strongly suggest you take that Path of scholarship. It is a broken road of tears, but Allah (s.w.t.) will Reward you tremendously. What can you lose that God Almighty cannot Give you better?
Brother Muslim Mike: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, thank you greatly for your response and I appreciate you clarifying. I did in fact take offense to your original response because the way you said it was as if to shut me down and tell me to stop talking. That is the way it came across.
Of course, like I said I have no disagreement with scholars, people studying and learning and continue to grow and educate themselves, this is my ultimate goal in the end is well - in learning the Arabic and the understanding of it. Peace and Blessings to everyone out there. May Allah continue to Guide us all.
Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Amin, brother.
Brother Faizel Mohideen: I have not seen this interpretation of the shahadah. But some of the brothers, including Brother Terence, have hopefully clarified. I think what the Prophet (s.a.w.) left in his Last Sermon just comes to mind.
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) delivered his last sermon on the ninth of Dzu al-Hijjah, 10 years after Hijrah in the Uranah Valley of Mount Arafat. His words were quite clear and concise and were directed to the entire humanity. After praising, and thanking Allah (s.w.t.), he said, “O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore, listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present today.
O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will, indeed, Reckon your deeds. Allah has Forbidden you to take usury, therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muththalib shall henceforth be waived.
Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.
O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s Trust and with His Permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.
O People, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, perform your swalah, fast during the month of Ramadhan, and give your wealth in zakat. Perform hajj if you can afford to.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.
Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.
O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur’an and my sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray.
All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people.”
This hadits is found in the Shaykhayn, as well as recorded by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.) and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (r.a.). Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (r.a.) has given us the longest and perhaps the most complete version of this sermon in his Musnad.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Regarding tolerance, I must make the point that, yes, we tolerate but not beyond limits, especially when people like the Quranists imply that orthodox Islam is shirk. We do not tolerate the Najdis for the same reason, and for their disrespect of Allah (s.w.t.) and His Beloved (s.a.w.); we call them out and challenge them.
As Ustadz Terence pointed out above, we are strict on issues of creed so will challenge where others fall into error. Religion is not a free for all; there are absolutes. Seeing what has become of Christianity, and of Protestantism in particular, makes me ever more determined to do my part in protecting the Diyn of Muhammad (s.a.w.) from a similar fate.
I hope what we have learned here is that Qur’anic exegesis is not for amateurs; this is the problem we have with Wahhabi’s too - they also think they can go about it themselves. The result has been a monster running wild and uncontrollable as they misinterpret even the most basic verses to suit their own whims and egos, completely unaware of their own ignorance.
Qur’an exegesis requires a complete knowledge of many other fields first, including classical Arabic. I am not a scholar but the little I do know has been gained from the company of the inheritors of the Prophet (s.a.w.), whose knowledge has been gained through an unbroken chain of transmission back to The Beloved (s.a.w.). Ustadz Terence and Ustadz James know much more than I.
Some on the thread did not even seem to understand that a mushrik is someone who is guilty of shirk, yet presume to analyse and examine verses of the Qur’an. The result has been a hodgepodge of contradiction and falsities. Some humility in the face of the Infinite Knowledge of the Divine is required by all of us, so that we respect His Infinite Knowledge.
Brother James Harris: I do not think that people are saying that others cannot have knowledge of the Qur’an without being a scholar. However, I think it is fair for someone to respond if a generally accepted interpretation of the Qur’an is challenged with a radically new reading. If someone is offering a proposition within a domain of scholarship like Qur’an exegesis, why should a scholarly response not be given? I, personally, am very happy if somebody corrects me on a matter in which they have more expertise than myself. It should not be taken as an insult.
Sister Eleanor Grant: My feeling is the real truth can only ever come from God. God is the only Real Teacher. If He Wills, we will understand what Truth is and we will be Guided.
Brother Hamayoon Sultan Qurayshi: Finally, something we can agree on. al-Hamdulillah! You are right, but that does not mean that we do not take ownership of our learning. Knowledge does come from Allah, as does our income, but we do not sit back and wait for our salary cheques – we work. The same with knowledge: we seek out the learned teachers, put the effort in, and if Allah (s.w.t.) Wills, then we will have the understanding.
This is the sentiment shared in the famous ‘tie your camel’ hadits. I believe Imam al-Ghazali (r.a.) also used the metaphor of a match. We take the match out of the box, move it to the sandpaper, strike the match against the sandpaper, and Allah (s.w.t.) Creates the flame.